Following the accelerated adoption of e-commerce in the past year, the firm has observed that consumers are increasingly becoming more discerning about the online shopping experience.
“With the uptake of online shopping especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, customers’ demand and expectation of online shopping experience has been surging rapidly. Customer research showed that in Asia, our customers have expectation on fast and reliable delivery for online shopping,” said Freda Ng, Chief Digital Officer of Watsons International.
While one- or two-day delivery time are considered fast now, Ng believes that in time, consumers will no longer settle for such a long delivery lead time.
The company has also observed the growing need for on-demand deliveries in the SEA beauty market.
“To most customers in SEA, beauty has already become part of their daily life and routine. Very often, there are situations that you are in need of certain beauty items right away, such as a hydrating face mask to end a hectic day or make-up removing wipes to complete their skincare routine,” said Ng.
On January 19, the firm announced that it has partnered with Grab, a SEA-based tech company that offers ride-hailing transport services, food delivery and payment solutions.
With the partnership, consumers will be able to get access to Watsons via the Grab application and access products from an extensive network of Watsons stores via Grab in Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines.
Grab will serve as Watsons’ last-mile express delivery partner in Southeast Asia through GrabExpress integration. Grab’s on-demand parcel delivery fleet will enable consumers to receive their purchases made through the Watsons website or mobile app within hours instead of days.
“This O+O partnership provides added convenience to our customers who can now shop for over 62,000 health and beauty products, either from the Watsons App or on GrabMart, and have them delivered to their doorsteps in under two hours,” said Ng.
With the Watsons’ O+O platform, the firm aims to fill the gap between meeting customers’ beauty needs quickly without needing them to leave their homes.
“With an extensive network of over 2,200 stores across South East Asia, Watsons has the unparallel ability to drastically reduce lead time to a matter of hours by using nearby stores as the fulfilment centre. We believe Watsons unique O+O model will set us apart to give the best delivery experience,” said Ng.
She added that the firm aims to set a new standard for ‘fast and reliable’ deliveries in the SEA region.
Fuelling e-commerce growth
This is not the firm’s first foray into express delivery services. It has been operating on-demand delivery services across 203 cities in China since 2018, which have been popular with its customers.
“China has been a forerunner in offering express delivery services. Now, customers can have their products delivered within one hour. Express services from stores in Watsons China account for a very meaningful and significant part of the business,” said Ng.
Watsons’ eCommerce business saw strong growth with orders and sales doubling in 2020 compared to the year before. With Grab’s user penetration, the firm believes it will further fuel this growth moving forward.